Chestnut-crowned Bush Warbler

Chestnut-crowned Bush Warbler Cettia major occurs at higher elevations than any other Cettia in China. Nominate race breeds above 2900 m in southeastern Tibet and from northwestern Yunnan north to around Mt. Emei in central Sichuan. Descends in winter. Inhabits rhododendron thickets both in forests and on windswept hillsides above tree line. Shy, elusive, active. The largest Cettia in Himalayan China, larger and with stronger bill than grey-sided bush warbler. Like grey-sided, has contrasting head pattern formed by warm, chestnut-brown crown and nape (warmest on forehead), buff supercilium, dark eye-stripe; large, dark eye accentuated by white (broken) eye-ring below eye. On the chestnut-crowned, the chestnut pigmentation on the crown is spilling onto the supercilium in front of the eye, and the supercilium is slightly longer behind the eye. Rest of upperparts drab grey-brown. Underparts greyish-white, with breast-sides and flanks grey-brown; undertail coverts warm buff. Grey-sided has more extensive grey on breast sides and flanks; white only on throat and down the center of breast and belly. Japanese bush warbler is larger, has less contrasting chestnut cap, and lacks chestnut wash on supercilium. Juvenile lacks chestnut crown and is darker on breast. Juvenile grey-sided is more uniformly brownish olive; lacks clearly contrasting whitish throat and belly. Bill grey to black above, black with yellow at base on lower mandible. Feet dull pink. Song consists of a few introductory notes followed by cheerful, hurried “whi-wee, whi-whi-wee.” Song of grey-sided is similar but shorter and faster, and followed by distinctive squeaky “wheezuu-wheezuu”, lacking in chestnut-crowned. Call is a sharp, metallic “pseep”, reminiscent of a bunting. — Craig Brelsford

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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